23 March 2018

Transition To A New Holiday Act To Start In 2019

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart


Ogletree Deakins is a labor and employment law firm representing management in all types of employment-related legal matters. Ogletree Deakins has more than 850 attorneys located in 53 offices across the United States and in Europe, Canada, and Mexico. The firm represents a range of clients, from small businesses to Fortune 50 companies.
On September 1, 2020, a new holiday-leave regime will become effective in Denmark. However, commencing on January 1, 2019 there will be a transition period ensuring a smooth shift from the old to the new regime.
Denmark Employment and HR
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Co-authored by Anders Etgen Reitz of IUNO

On September 1, 2020, a new holiday-leave regime will become effective in Denmark. However, commencing on January 1, 2019 there will be a transition period ensuring a smooth shift from the old to the new regime.

The purpose of the new rules is to ensure that all employees can take paid leave in the same year as they accrue the holiday, bringing Denmark in line with the rest of the European Union. The new act will result in several substantial changes:

  • Employees will accrue leave for the 12-month period from September 1 to August 31, and employees can take the accrued leave in a 16-month period starting from September 1 of the leave period until December 31 in the subsequent year.
  • If the employee is prevented from taking holiday leave, then up to four weeks' holiday leave must be transferred to the next leave period. This differs from the current rules according to which untaken leave is paid out.
  • The employer and the employee can agree to transfer any accrued and untaken holiday leave that exceeds four weeks. If this is not done by the end of the leave period, the leave will be paid out to the employee.
  • Agreements on shortened notice require an individual arrangement. Thus, after the effective date of the new rules, contracts of employment may not contain a general provision regarding a shortened notice for holiday leave.

A set of rules will ensure a transition period from the old to the new holiday leave regime.

The most important changes in the act are below.

A New Holiday Year and Concurrent Holiday

Currently, employees accrue leave during the calendar year running from January 1 to December 31. The leave can then be taken as a so-called "deferred holiday," during the holiday year, which runs from May 1 to April 30 in the following year. With the deferred holiday, new employees could have to wait up to 16 months before they have accrued leave and can take 5 weeks' paid holiday leave. The practice of deferred holidays is also causes a headache for employers, requiring them to make substantial payments of accrued holiday leave upon termination.

The new rules introduce what is called "concurrent holiday," which aims to meet new employees' need for paid leave. The new holiday act permits employees to accrue leave during the "holiday year" from September 1 to August 31. Employees will then be entitled to take leave during a period of 16 months from September 1 in the same year that leave started accruing in the "holiday year" to December 31 in the subsequent year (the leave period). With the new rules that permit employees to earn leave continuously, leave accrued in March, for instance, can be taken as early as April.

Transition from Old to New Rules

According to the new act, the concurrent holiday scheme will become effective on September 1, 2020. To prevent employees from accruing double holiday, 25 days of holiday, which are accrued in the interim period before the new arrangement enters into force, are to be frozen in a special new holiday fund. The frozen assets will only become due when the employee leaves the labor force.


Although an improvement, the holiday act does not achieve the simplification of the current rules that many employers had hoped for, and it looks as if the act will remain quite complex. Employers will want to review their contracts of employment, policies, and processes for compliance with the new rules.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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